Various flavors of informatics have been a topic in Danish upper secondary schools for more than 50 years (Caspersen and Nowack 2013).
In late 2008, the Ministry of Education established a task force to conduct an analysis of informatics in upper secondary schools and provide recommendations for a revitalization of the subject, not as a niche specialty but as a general subject relevant for all. Subsequently, a new general, coherent, and uniform informatics subject was developed, tested, and finally made permanent in 2016, however, not yet as a compulsory subject for all upper secondary education.
A distinct aspect of the Danish informatics curriculum is the focus on digital empowerment. We define digital empowerment as a concern for how students, as individuals and groups, develop the capacity to understand digital technology and its effect on their lives and society at large and their ability to engage critically and curiously with the construction and deconstruction of digital artifacts (Dindler et al. 2021).
An approach to embrace digital empowerment was present already in the Danish upper secondary informatics curriculum developed in 2009 (Caspersen 2009). One of the six key competence areas was Use and impact of digital artifacts on human activity. The purpose of this competence area was that students should understand that digital artifacts and their design have a profound impact on people, organizations, and social systems. Design of a system is not just design of the digital artifact and its interface, it is also design of the use and workflow that unfolds around the artifact. The purpose is that the students understand the interplay between the design of a digital artifact and the behavioral patterns that intentionally or unintentionally unfolds (Caspersen and Nowack 2013).
The informatics curriculum for primary and lower secondary education was developed by mandate of the Danish Ministry of Education in 2018 and is running on trial until 2021 in about 5% of primary and lower secondary schools across Denmark.
The author of this chapter and a colleague from the Department of Digital Design and Information Studies at Faculty of Arts were invited to serve as chairs for the group developing the curriculum. In choice of chairs, the Minister of Education signaled the importance of integrating a digital humanism perspective in the design of the curriculum.
The informatics curriculum for primary and lower secondary school consists of four competence areas (Danish Ministry of Education 2018):
Digital design and design processes
Computational thinking and modeling
Technological knowledge and skills
An overview of the four competence areas is provided in Fig. 2.
Digital empowerment refers to the critical and constructive exploration and analysis of how technology is imbued with values and intentions and how it shapes our lives as individuals, groups, and as a society. It is concerned with the ethics of digital artifacts and promotes an analytical and critical approach to digital transformation.
Digital design and design processes refers to the ability to frame problems within a complex problem area and, through iterative processes, generate new ideas that can be transformed into form and content in interactive prototypes. It focuses on the processes through which digital artifacts are created and the choices that designers have to make in these processes, highlighting students’ ability to work reflectively with complex problems.
Computational thinking and modeling concerns the ability to translate a framed problem into a possible computational solution. It focuses on students’ ability to analyze, model, and structure data and data processes in terms of abstract models (e.g., algorithms, data models, and interaction models).
Technological knowledge and skills concerns knowledge of computer systems, digital tools and associated languages, and programming. It focuses on the students’ ability to express computational ideas and models in digital artifacts. This includes the ability to use computer systems and the language associated with these and to express ideas through programming. Working within this area aims at providing students with the experience and abilities needed to make informed choices about the use of digital tools and technologies.
Two of the competence areas – Computational thinking and modeling and Technological knowledge and skills – encompass classic computing subjects, while the two others are less standard in informatics curricula, if present at all.